World War II Veteran Lawrence E. Thornton Murdered in Robbery by Four Teenagers

| by Dominic Kelly

Four teenagers allegedly killed a World War II veteran known by his community as “Shine” in an attempted robbery.

87-year-old Lawrence E. Thornton of Mississippi was in his own driveway when four teenagers apparently assaulted him and stole his wallet. Two days later, Thornton died in the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Now, after a manhunt to try and apprehend the suspects, four teenagers have been charged with his death. The teens include 18-year-olds Leslie Litt and Geblonski Murray, and 19-year-olds Terrance Morgan and Edward Johnson.

Two of the suspects apparently pushed Thornton to the ground and beat him before taking his wallet and running.

The four have been charged with three crimes, including capital murder, robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Thornton was known by his community as the king of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival, earning him the nickname “Tamale King.”

“Our love and prayers go out to your family,” said festival organizers in a posting online. “And you will forever be our King Shine.”

Thornton’s daughter-in-law Laura Crockrell Thornton recently posted a touching tribute on Facebook.

“It's been a tough but beautiful day. Tough because we said our final goodbyes to our beloved Pa Shine but beautiful because it was the type of day he would have loved,” wrote Laura. “It was a beautiful blue sky day. The funeral mass was perfect - from the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, to the homily, to the beautiful music, to the Navy Honor Guard at the cemetery, to the delicious meal we enjoyed together afterwards with family and friends - he would have loved every minute of it!”

Thornton was also called Shine by those who knew him; the nickname starting in high school when he began to pick out the notes to “You Are My Sunshine” during a performance.